Three Condor Chicks Dead

Three Condor Chicks Dead

By Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres ForestWatch

Three young California condors in our area were found dead recently, spelling bad news for recovery efforts. On the bright side, seven chicks were born in the wild in California this year, bringing the statewide tally to 89 birds.

In late July, biologists found condor chick #503 lying in thick brush below a redwood tree adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest in Big Sur. It’s gut was full of microtrash—small bits of plastic, glass, bottle caps, bullet shells and other items that condor chicks are unable to digest. The second bird–condor #358–strangled itself on a rope abandoned near Tar Creek Falls along Sespe Creek near nesting areas. The third bird—condor #539—was retrieved from its nest near Sespe Creek earlier this month. Microtrash is suspected of playing a role in its death, too, though biologists are still awaiting the report on the final cause of death.

ForestWatch and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service launched a joint effort this month to remove microtrash from 8 sites in the Los Padres National Forest. Our first cleanup took place Saturday, Sept. 26, coinciding with National Public Lands Day. We worked to remove trash from the Sespe Creek area.

On October 3-4, join ForestWatch and the Sierra Club to help remove abandoned barbed wire fencing in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

This fencing blocks rare pronghorn antelope from roaming freely, and they are unable to jump over it. We’ll remove fences on Saturday, have a potluck dinner, camp and spend Sunday morning exploring the area. Go to to learn more.

Jeff Kuyper is Executive Director of Los Padres ForestWatch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the forest with community involvement, innovative fieldwork, scientific collaboration and legal advocacy.

Will a condor habitat be preserved, Mr. President? Or do you want the oil?

Will President Obama and the BLM stop oil and gas drilling on the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The following article doesn’t make clear who asked or whether the President and the BLM will respond, but the movement to stop oil and gas drilling is long overdue, according to many. Yet Ken Salazar was in California recently talking about drilling offshore. With Mike Pool, former California BLM director now in DC as acting direction of the entire BLM, it makes the politics very interesting. Will this be the Cheney plan or something new?

Pres. Barack Obama and the Bureau of Land Management were asked yesterday to spare the Carrizo Plain National Monument from oil and gas drilling exploration; as the site hosts the country’s unique habitats including that of the California condor, San Joaquin kit fox and pronghorn antelope among others.

The 250,000-acre Carrizo wild land which is nestled between the Caliente and Tremblor mountains is home to the greatest concentration of endangered species in California, according to Biogems Initiative, an environmental group which employs the power of citizen activism to take on and prevail over corporate interests.

Launched in 2001, the Initiative mobilizes thousands of concerned citizens to take action in defense of irreplaceable natural treasures and the wildlife that depends on them for survival. Online activists, known as BioGems Defenders bring overwhelming pressure to bear on governments and companies bent on industrializing the world’s last wild places.
At the heart of the Carrizo Plain National Monument stands majestic the Painted Rock, a 55-foot tall sacred rock formation spectacularly adorned by the prehistoric Chumash people, according to Frances Beinecke, leader of the BioGems Defenders.

Despite its designation as a national monument, this area is not safe from the ravages of oil and gas drilling as a company named Vintage Production has made plans to explore for oil reserves in the plain, using giant thumper trucks to send disruptive shock waves deep into the earth, Beinecke added.

“These trucks and their waves could run right through the habitats for the endangered kit fox and the California condor which are already considered endangered because of their limited number,” she added. “As the road building and drilling that accompany oil extraction would cause irreparable damage to the fragile plain.”

Aside from that, opening the Carrizo Plains to the Big Oil could prove disastrous for the entire historic monument where priceless cultural artifacts are still hidden in its wild grasses and ridges that date back thousands of years.
At this point, the Monument is already under pressure from climate change, habitat loss and degradation and intensive livestock grazing, Beinecke added.

BioGems high profile activists include Leonardo DiCaprio on polar bears, James Taylor on whales and Robert Redford on the American West.

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Author: Shiela Arias